Nursing Professionals: Speaking Truthfully
As a doctoral student, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of listening and choosing my words wisely. In our PhD program, we spend a great deal of time reading, writing, and responding to others. This requires much patience and self-control, something I sorely lacked prior to entering the program. I admit to being an "advice giver" in my pre-PhD life. Giving advice was something I saw as being helpful. I now realize I was in error most of the time. As a Christian nurse, I realize the need to be very prudent with my words and NOT to offer advice without knowing the facts. It is also very important to us nursing professionals to be aware of the influence of our words (both spoken and written).
As a fan of social media, I often view postings presenting less than factual information. For nurses, this can be very detrimental to our credibility. For several years in a row, nursing has been judged as the most honest and ethical profession! According to Gallup, 8 out of 10 Americans judged nurses to have "high" or "very high" ethical standards. This honor carries a large amount of responsibility. As nursing professionals, we must be diligent to speak truthfully. If we make a comment or remark about a healthcare issue, we must make sure it is based on fact and not just our opinion. In recent months I have noticed a large number of postings on Facebook about the flu vaccine for nurses. Many well-intentioned individuals have made grossly inaccurate statements about both the virus and the vaccine. Unfortunately, there will be those who choose to believe these untruths without substantiating the facts. There will be those who desperately need the protection of the vaccine but will choose not to take it based on false information. (For the truth about the flu and the flu vaccine, . Too often, we take the words and advice of those unqualified to inform without seeking the truth for ourselves. This can have devastating consequences. There is nothing wrong with admitting we do not know something. It is much better to say, "I'm sorry, I don't know the answer." No individual has all the answers and those who pretend to are delusional. We can always offer to help someone find the answer. After all, that is one of our jobs as nursing professionals.
As one of my very wise former-professors once said, "Passion is wonderful, but it must be an informed passion." I have given this a lot of thought. Many of us have nursing passions that drive us to speak out on certain issues. I continually remind myself to check my passions against the evidence. Am I adequately informed about my passions or am I just following an emotion or accepting the words of someone I trust? Neither is good enough. As a nursing professional, if I am going to offer advice or information, it is my responsibility to check the facts and be informed. Otherwise, I need to keep my opinions to myself. As the verse in Proverbs reminds us, it is shameful for us to offer advice without knowing the facts.